BloombergNEF (BNEF) announced the twelve winners of the 2021 BNEF Pioneers – early-stage companies that are pursuing low-carbon opportunities.
BNEF selected the winners based on their innovations that fill important gaps in optimizing long-haul freight, making sustainable materials, tracking greenhouse gases, valuing carbon sinks and reducing energy and chemical use.
The competition received over 250 applications from 36 different countries. A team of lead analysts at BNEF evaluated candidates against three criteria: the potential impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the planet; the degree of technology innovation and novelty; and the likelihood of adoption.
The 2021 BNEF Pioneers
Challenge 1: Managing and optimizing long-haul freight
Convoy (U.S.) provides a digital freight network and moves thousands of truckloads around the United States each day through its optimized connected network of carriers, saving money for shippers and eliminating carbon waste.
“More than 72 million metric tons of wasted CO2 are generated by empty trucks; if the entire industry were to adopt Convoy’s technology, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 32 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 15 million cars off of the road annually. Convoy is pioneering the movement in efficient freight,” Dan Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Convoy, said.
Nautilus Labs (U.S.) advances the efficiency of ocean commerce through artificial intelligence. It provides a predictive decision-support solution that drives sustainability and profitability in global maritime shipping.
“Ocean commerce emits roughly 3 percent of global human-made greenhouse gases – and its share of global emissions will continue to rise as greater efficiency is being achieved more quickly on land and in other sectors. Yet 30 percent of the fuel consumed at sea can be saved with better decisions driven by the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Matt Heider, CEO of Nautilus Labs.
Ontruck (Spain) is a digital transportation company that combines automation and machine learning to drive out waste in the logistics process. Ontruck offers an efficient and low-carbon solution to move freight, helping shippers to reduce transportation costs, increasing earnings for carriers, and removing carbon emissions generated from empty trucks.
“At Ontruck´s core is the industry’s most powerful routing algorithm that reduces kilometers driven empty from over 40 percent to 15 percent. We are well on our way to drive a step-change in efficiency across the 600 billion-euro trucking industry in Europe,” Inigo Juantegui, CEO and co-founder of Ontruck, said.
Challenge 2: Advancing materials and techniques for sustainable products
Cemvita Factory (U.S.) engineers microbes that use carbon dioxide or methane as a feedstock for the production of carbon-negative industrial chemicals. These chemicals are used by oil and gas, chemical, mining and aerospace companies that seek to apply nature-inspired technologies for reducing their carbon footprint.
“A future where humans can live in harmony with nature, and create a sustainable and balanced climate. We are making this possible by applying synthetic biology to enhance natural processes such as photosynthesis for production of chemicals,” Moji Karimi, CEO of Cemvita Factory.
Pyrowave (Canada) electrifies chemical processes in the circular economy of plastics. Pyrowave uses microwave technology to supply the chemical industry with recycled raw materials that are drop-in substitutes for virgin chemicals.
“We pioneered the development of the most advanced industrial microwave-based platform applied to circular economy of plastics enabling closed-loop low-carbon plastics,” Jocelyn Doucet, CEO of Pyrowave, said.
Via Separations (U.S.) targets U.S. energy consumption that is wasted each year through the process of separating chemicals, by electrifying energy-intensive steps in chemical production.
“Via’s technology augments existing manufacturing infrastructure, providing process intensification while reducing carbon emissions and energy usage,” Shreya Dave, CEO of Via Separations, said.
Challenge 3: Monitoring and understanding our changing planet
Pachama (U.S.) uses machine learning with satellite imaging to measure carbon captured in forests. Pachama brings the latest technology in remote sensing, satellite imaging and AI to the world of forest carbon in order to enable forest conservation and restoration at scale.
“By harnessing AI, LiDAR and satellite imagery, we have established a credible forest market, founded on unprecedented levels of accountability, accuracy and transparency,” Diego Saez Gil, CEO of Pachama, said.
Planet (U.S.) provides global, daily satellite imagery and geospatial solutions to better manage risk across various sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, energy and natural resources.
QLM Technology (U.K.) offers its quantum technology to provide an understanding of greenhouse gas emissions in an affordable, accurate, scalable way using camera systems that visualize and quantify emissions as they occur.
“We appreciate the opportunity to publicize how our quantum gas cameras will enable the widespread continuous monitoring and control of industrial greenhouse gases like methane,” Murray Reed, CEO of QLM Technology, said.
75F (U.S.) is an IoT-based building management system using smart sensors and controls to make commercial buildings more efficient, comfortable and healthier.
“75F is disrupting the building controls industry by leveraging the Internet of Things in a complex and dated space. By doing this, we can make automation affordable and accessible to the majority of commercial buildings that can’t otherwise justify a controls system today,” Deepinder Singh, founder and CEO of 75F.
ECOncrete (Israel) provides technology for coastal and marine infrastructure – increasing concrete strength and durability, while creating ecological value and an active carbon sink.
“Concrete is the second-most consumed material in the world, is responsible for 8 percent of global CO2 emissions, and is used in about 70 percent of our coastal infrastructure. As we adapt to rising seas and increased coastal development under more resource stress, ECOncrete provides accessible technology to simultaneously protect assets, and revive marine ecosystems,” Ido Sella, CEO of ECOncrete.
Pivot Bio (U.S.) makes nitrogen-producing microbial products that can replace the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer for cereal crops, giving farmers a crop nutrition solution to achieve more consistent yields and improve air and water quality.
“Developing a product that helps the world’s farmers be more productive and more profitable, while making their operations more sustainable, is a triple win for farmers, the agriculture industry, and the planet,” Karsten Temme, CEO and co-founder of Pivot Bio, said.